Russian scientists looking for coronavirus vaccine in sea sponges

Researchers from Ural Federal University are planning to launch a startup for the cultivation of sea sponges in Russia. It turned out that these organisms are capable of producing antiviral substances.

“Sea sponge Aplysina aerophoba naturally produces antiviral substances – bromtyrosines – protection against viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms,” says Yulia Khrunyk, a researcher at Ural Federal University. – In the laboratory of our German colleague, Professor of the Freiberg Mining Academy Hermann Ehrlich, the substances were obtained in sufficient quantities to immediately use them in clinical studies against the new coronavirus.

The antiviral properties of bromtyrosines have also been confirmed by other scientists: aeroplysinin, bromtyrosine from sea sponges Aplysina aerophoba and Verongula rigida have been proven to inhibit the replication of HIV, indicating its enormous therapeutic potential for treating various viral diseases.

In addition to the use of sponges to produce bromtyrosines, scaffold sponges, three-dimensional porous matrices that act as a mechanical framework, are of great interest in biotechnology and medicine. Together with Prof. Ehrlich’s team, UFU scientists are researching various types of marine sponge scaffolds for use as potential biomaterials, including for implantology. In particular, Julia Khrunyk carries out a complex analysis of the immune response to the material of the studied scaffolds in order to exclude possible inflammatory processes when they are used as biomaterials.

The largest reserves of Aplysina aerophoba are found in the European Mediterranean, especially off the coast of Montenegro, Croatia and Albania.